“Route Out Of North Leeward Not Conducive For Rapid Evacuation”

Quiet Activity Happening At La Soufriere, Citizens Warned About Complacency

(By Ernesto Cooke) – Volcanologist Roderick Stewart says the La Soufriere activity remains the same with modest growth of the new dome.

Estimates show that the dome is now 920 meters or 3018 feet long.

Stewart says the monitoring and warnings remain the same. However, the bigger the dome gets, the threats increase.

The specialist with over 30 years of experience in the field has worked on volcanoes in several countries and has served as Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory from 2012-2019.

In giving a recent update on the activity at the site he said: “At the moment we are getting earthquake signals but they are all very, very small and they are associated with the dome itself and the indication is there is no pressure build-up so.

If we were moving towards explosive activity, we would expect to see things that indicate it’s a pressure build-up.”

He says no one should drop their guard and be prepared in the eventuality that NEMO and the Government issue an evacuation order.

Stewart further stated that sometimes it is still challenging to predict what will take place despite monitoring.

Evacuation Out Of North Leeward

Volcanologist Roderick Stewart says the roads coming out of North Leeward are not conducive for a rapid escape. 

He says this is a matter that the Government must be acutely aware of.

Stewart says during an eruption, a significant number of people die from movement out of the affected area, more than the explosion itself.

“I know NEMO is looking at how to do sea evacuations and even holding trials to test these kinds of evacuations”, Stewart said.

The volcanologist said small things like landslides and road accidents could cut persons off and slow the evacuation.

Latest Report

In its latest report, NEMO says the dome’s gas has caused damage to vegetation in the hillside areas on the southwestern sides of the volcano. 

According to NEMO, the gases within the plume are more acidic and can cause respiratory harm to human beings and have the potential to render one unconscious. 

The gases can also have a corrosive effect on skin and eyes, even with short exposure.

The National Emergency Management Organisation is reminding the public that no evacuation order or notice has been issued.

NEMO continues to appeal to the public to desist from visiting the La Soufrière Volcano, especially going into the crater, since doing so is extremely dangerous.

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